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Grade-related criteria

These are the criteria assessors and the examination board apply when marking your essays and dissertations.

Pass at MA level

To be awarded a Pass at MA level the essay or dissertation should normally:

  1. Present a reasonably clear argument with some level of detail.
  2. Show a fair ability to marshal evidence for the argument, even if this is not sustained throughout the essay.
  3. Display a reasonably thorough knowledge of the relevant sources and texts and the ability to analyse them in some detail.
  4. Demonstrate a fair grasp of a reasonable range of critical and theoretical literature relevant to the essay topic.
  5. Be reasonably well-written throughout.
  6. Use appropriate scholarly conventions relating to presentation.
  7. Keep within the word limit.
  8. Be adequately documented, with footnotes or endnotes, and a bibliography that reveals engagement with relevant primary and secondary texts.

Merit at MA level

To be awarded a Merit at MA level the essay or dissertation should normally:

  1. Present a clear and detailed argument.
  2. Marshal a body of evidence for the argument confidently and clearly throughout the essay.
  3. Display a good knowledge of the relevant sources and texts and a critical confidence in analysing them in close detail.
  4. Demonstrate a good grasp of a range of critical and theoretical literature relevant to the essay topic, including recent work in the field, and be able to engage with, as well as rehearse, debates on the topic in hand.
  5. Be well written throughout.
  6. Be presented in a proper scholarly fashion throughout.
  7. Keep within the word limit.

Be well documented, with footnotes or endnotes, and a full bibliography that reveals engagement with relevant primary and secondary texts.

Distinction at MA level

To be awarded a Distinction at MA level the essay or dissertation should normally:

  1. Fulfill all the criteria of a MERIT essay and, additionally:
  2. Show a consistent level of intellectual ambition beyond what is required for a MERIT mark.
  3. Display evidence of originality in the selection and/or interpretation of sources and texts and the capacity to intervene actively in a chosen field.
  4. Have a wide range of reference, beyond what is required for a MERIT mark.
  5. Contribute to the knowledge of the subject by the discovery of new facts or the development of an original theoretical approach.